Using the Public Library to Support Simple Living
If you are converting to minimalism, you must get a public library card! They are the pioneers of the sharing economy.
The vast resources offered at libraries allow you to enjoy some entertainment without committing to purchases.
The library allows me to live a simpler life. How's that Irene? Well, please let me gush about library offerings...
1. Access to the books.
Let's get the obvious choice out of the way first.
Does not matter to me if the books are print or electronic, I love them both equally. I love my fiction. I love grabbing a new cookbook. I love putting new releases on hold.
I love researching. Whether it's finding books about blogging, resume writing, or a new project, the library allows me to check out numerous books for several weeks. Some I read thoroughly. Others I just scan.
2. The ability to request materials.
When I find a new book or resource that I think may be valuable, but I don't want to spend money, I just ask the library to buy the item.
Sometimes my suggestions are rejected, usually because their vendor doesn't carry that item. Most times though, I get an email notification letting me know that the library is purchasing my suggested item and it's being placed in my Library Hold inventory.
3. No more magazine subscriptions or purchases.
At some libraries, they still have physical copies of magazines that you can check out. Usually, the policy is that you can't check out the most recent issue. While I have lived within these parameters before, I'm really happy that the San Francisco Public Library has purchased a subscription to Zinio for Libraries.
Zinio has transformed how I read magazine. After downloading the free app, I logged into the SFPL's link for Zinio and started browsing.
I can read the latest issues of Wired or The New Yorker for free. They have National Geographic, Newsweek, The Atlantic, and so much more. I can peruse back issues. I check out what I want. I can check the box to be notified when a new issue hits the app, and I'm keeping up with whatever news I like without cluttering up my home with magazines.
4. Free movie nights!
Libraries have lovely collections of DVDs, inclining TV series and documentaries. The SFPL has Hoopla, a digital movie service that works pretty well. I play the movie on my iPad and mirror the signal to the AppleTV. Sometimes there are a few streaming blips, but we're watching a movie...for free...and on demand. Love it!
And the library's DVD collection has certainly helped us save money. My Person and I do not have a cable TV package. No Netflix. No Hulu Plus.
We have AppleTV and an Amazon FireTV, which cost us $179 up front once for both items. We've subscribed to three television seasons at a total of $76. I can't wait for Orphan Black to come back and I"m debating whether to buy in SD to save money ($18.99) or HD ($25.99). Either way, since we watch so little television, purchasing specific subscriptions is cheaper than having a cable TV package.
And for the movies we like to relax with a few times a week? Mostly, we watch library DVDs. We have rented two movies on iTunes this year because we really wanted to see them that night. There's the caveat that some people have a hard time with. You do have to be patient. Popular movies have many holds. Since I'm at the library every few days, I'm always bringing home something new. We never have time to watch all of the DVDs, so we pick what we're in the mood for.
5. Audiobook options.
Many libraries still have audiobooks on CD, but downloading the MP3 through Overdrive is easy. Plus it's instant access to that audiobook. If I'm about to start cooking for a few hours, I can easily peruse what audiobooks are available now in the catalog, download, and listen as I make meals for the week. The library may be closed, but I'm borrowing away!
My only problem right now is that I'm so behind on listening to my favorite podcasts, I haven't devoted as much time to listen to audiobooks. But I know the library is keeping them safe! And acquiring even more for the collection.
6. Music options.
I'm not a huge music lover, so I don't take advantage of library music offerings much. But I know I can check out CDs. And some libraries subscribe to the Fregal program that allows patrons to download MP3s of songs directly onto their computer. There's usually a limit on the number of songs you're allowed to download each week, which is totally reasonable for free downloads! That are actually legal!
7. Library events, classes, and workshops.
While many libraries do have an active book club or two, there's so much more going on there. Cooking classes. Job hunting workshops. Basic computer classes. Art lectures. Yoga. Crafts. Game Night.
Sure, you may have to go to different branches, but I like exploring the displays at various libraries and meeting new people. If you're a minimalist who's new in town, library events, classes, and workshops are a free way to meet like-minded people.
Librarians are the best people in the world. They made a conscious career choice to help people find answers.
Ask your librarians about what's new at the library. You may be surprised at what you hear. Libraries are evolving in marvelous ways. Some people may like to complain that the changes are too slow. Well, they're using public money. Of course there will be debate over how to spend it. Big deal.
Libraries are phenomenal cathedrals of knowledge! Their plentiful archives are open to anyone. As a minimalist, I'm at the library at least once a week returning something and picking up at least one hold. Living simply does not have to be a challenge if one possesses a library card!
Okay library lovers! I know you're out there! What items or services does your library provide that's not on my list?